Edgar Allan Poe (public domain)


By Edgar Allan Poe:


Thy soul shall find itself alone
’Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.

Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness — for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.

The night, though clear, shall frown,
And the stars shall not look down
From their high thrones in the Heaven
With light like hope to mortals given,
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more, like dew-drop from the grass.

The breeze, the breath of God, is still,
And the mist upon the hill
Shadowy, shadowy, yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token.
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“ ’Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“ ’Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore!”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon I heard again a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
“Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not an instant stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of “Never—nevermore.”

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplght gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Angels whose faint foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

(Today’s poems are in the public domain, belong to the masses, and appear here today accordingly.)

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849) was an American author, poet, editor, and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story, and is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. (Annotated biography of Edgar Allan Poe courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Editor’s Note: Your faithful editor of this Saturday Poetry Series is a HUGE fan of Halloween. This year I’ve decided to celebrate with poetry! “The Raven” is a classic poem of the macabre, and as such is a perfect nod to All Hallow’s Eve. I am particularly partial to this rendition by the Simpsons, because Halloween should have both tricks and treats involved. In addition to “The Raven,” well-known and beloved, I was pleasantly surprised to find “Spirits of the Dead,” a poem that calls out to Dia de los Muertos, when the veils thin between the worlds of the living and the dead and we welcome the spirits of those who came before us. “[F]or then / The spirits of the dead, who stood / In life before thee, are again / In death around thee, and their will / Shall overshadow thee; be still.” Happy Halloween!

Want to read more by and about Edgar Allan Poe?
The Poetry Foundation
Academy of American Poets
Poe Museum


Jackie Trieber

from ‘A DANCER’
By Jackie Treiber

And from eternal life found in the eyes came the truth: she was one witch. She was from Atzlan. Of Avar, wore the bridal relic, sat at the heels of mother fire. Mary A. of Massachusetts, little unclear Mary. Celine of Normandy, sick on milk. Joan of Arc. Strega. Lost in the woods in her red shoes. Caught in the rain at the base of a mountain. No survivor of death, survivor of transcendence. Torched, entombed, excised. Acrid climate, cupidity, war, drought. In lieu of an oral lineage, in lieu of explanations, there came the gift of death to her. When death was collective, she was anonymous. When death became individual, she died with little handfuls of dirt on her chest, thrown with purpose and care. Her conclusion was more than physical death now, and her body nothing more than a reed carved to sing its masterful song. This is why she stood resolute—she had known a thousand floods of death. This, out of all of them, was nothing.

Today’s excerpt appears here with permission from the author.

Jackie Treiber writes, reads and edits in Portland, Oregon. She is drawn to conflicted and damaged characters. Dualities such as profane/magical, masculine/feminine and stability/chaos thrill and inspire her. Her poems will be published in an anthology of Kansas City poets in Spring 2015 (UnHoly Day Press). Her most recent work was featured in Smalldoggies Reading Series Chapbook (2011).

Editor’s Note: Today’s excerpt is part of a larger work of fiction, though it stands on its own as a poem, blurring the line between prose and prose poetry. From within its almost choral narration (despite its third person narrative perspective) emerges one woman who is also every woman. She is a witch, a bride, Joan of Arc. She is our collective suffering, our recurring death. And yet her story is epiphanous. Because she has suffered, she knows that she can rise above. She has lived—and died—often enough to know that death is nothing more than metamorphosis.

Want to read more by Jackie Treiber?
Work poems
How Do We Look?
#11 Socially Acceptable Cannibalism
We burned John Wayne’s favorite yacht


Picture 9

By Lauren Ireland

Picture 4

Picture 8

Picture 7

Today’s poems are from The Arrow, published by Coconut Books, copyright © 2014 by Lauren Ireland, and appear here today with permission from the poet.

The Arrow: “It took almost a lifetime’s worth of emotions to read Lauren Ireland’s THE ARROW. She says Time eats at the edges of things so we hear her say other things, too, I am hating you from very far away and I am a grownup/flying right into the mouth of fear. This book is fraught with emotional emergencies, sometimes reckless, almost a little demented as one has to be when one faces who and what and where and how we are. Lucky for Ireland there are friends to whom many of these poems are dedicated who accompany her as she’s permanently lost in this very very mysterious flight we all share.” —Dara Wier

Lauren Ireland grew up in southern Maryland and coastal Virginia. She is a graduate of the MFA program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and an editor at Lungfull! Magazine. Lauren is the author of Dear Lil Wayne (Magic Helicopter Press, 2014) and two chapbooks, Sorry It’s So Small (Factory Hollow Press, 2011) and Olga & Fritz (Mondo Bummer Press, 2011). She co-curated The Reading at Chrystie Street in New York. Currently, she lives in Seattle with her husband and her husband’s cat.

Editor’s Note: As I read Lauren Ireland’s The Arrow I pushed against the book’s air of flippancy, its self-preservation in the guise of farce and self-deprecation, its false oaths of apathy. These are, as Naomi Shihab Nye would say, “the armor [the book] put[s] on to pretend [it has] a purpose in the world.” But this book does not need to pretend. It wears its armor as a tricked out husk around its fervent vulnerability. The poems within its pages are the bloodlettings of a twisted, tortured, and exceedingly human mind.

The Arrow is full of moments of lyric beauty and stunning, brutal clarity interwoven with equal portions of heaviness and frivolity that make for quite the witches’ brew. There is something unsettling about this book. Something that does not sit well. A wound or scab that begs to be healed yet must be picked at. I was often uncomfortable reading it, yet I could not put it down. I was drawn to the beauty and put off by the grotesque, and I believe this was meant to be the author’s poetic commentary on life. Life—like this book—is full of debauchery and death, fear and imagination, the mundane and the absurd. Love is inextricably linked with hate. There is a thin line between reality, waking dreams, and nightmares. This book is labyrinthine, in both the literal sense and the David Bowie sense of the word.

While it is easier to take some poems in the book more seriously than others, this, too, is an artistic reflection of the human life. As a work of art, however, I felt myself anchored throughout my journey by very deliberate artistic choices. Wickedly smart and poignant titles. Moments of lyric clarity that took my breath away. And a healthy dose of killer end-lines, which I am always a sucker for. “Now I am a grownup flying right into the mouth of fear,” “Now… I am running / from the nighttime wolves / in the forest that never was,” and that crushing Orphic echo, “Oh / I am exiled / my friend / this once / don’t turn.”

Want to see more from Lauren Ireland?
Official Author Website
Buy The Arrow from Coconut Books
Buy Dear Lil Wayne from Magic Helicopter Press
Small Press Distribution



By Leah Umansky

        Game of Thrones

In this story, she is fire-born:
knee-deep in the shuddering world.

In this story, she knows no fear,
for what is fractured is a near-bitten star,
a false-bearing tree,
or a dishonest wind.

In this story, fear is a house gone dry.
Fear is not being a woman.

I’m no ordinary woman, she says.
My dreams come true.

And she says and she is
and I say, yes, give me that.

(Today’s poem originally appeared via The Poetry Foundation/POETRY Magazine and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

Leah Umansky’s first book of poems, Domestic Uncertainties, is out now by BlazeVOX [Books.] Her Mad-Men inspired chapbook, Don Dreams and I Dream is forthcoming from Kattywompus Press in early 2014. She has been a contributing writer for BOMB Magazine’s BOMBLOG and Tin House, a poetry reviewer for The Rumpus and a live twitterer for the Best American Poetry Blog. She also hosts and curates the COUPLET Reading Series. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Thrush Poetry Journal, Similar Peaks and The Brooklyn Rail.

Editor’s Note: Ah, Khaleesi. Who doesn’t love her?! What an inspirational female role model, as Leah Umansky deftly expresses with today’s selection. The poet has taken a pop culture icon (of both the literary and television varieties) and brought her deeply into the realm of poetry, expressing the character’s strengths and struggles in beautiful, captivating lyric. Whether you are an avid fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series (now lovingly known as Game of Thrones, thanks to HBO) or you are unfamiliar with the stories, this is a poem we can all latch on to, can all love. How beautiful Umansky’s Khaleesi is, being “fire-born [and] knee-deep in the shuddering world,” how strong she is as she teaches us that “Fear is not being a woman.”

And may I take a moment to say how awesome POETRY Magazine has become since taking on its newest editor? I can hardly imagine today’s poem seeing the light of day in POETRY’s pages a year ago. And now it shares a home with poets such as CA Conrad and Ocean Vuong; it has finally become a publication that I am excited to read.

Want to read more by and about Leah Umansky?
Leah Umansky’s Blog
Buy Domestic Uncertainties from BlazeVOX [Books]
Thrush Poetry Journal
Brooklyn Rail
Poetry Crush
Buy Domestic Uncertainties from Powell’s Books



By Joshua Borgmann

A silence thickens into a wall of stone.
I’ve slept in late and written my days with fear
in an empty house and gone to bed alone.

For hours, I’ve sat and stared at a silent phone
and played the music loud to keep from hearing
the silence thicken into a wall of stone.

I’ve hidden my eyes and spoken with a broken tone
and sat for hours at a table sipping beer
in an empty house and gone to bed alone
as my silence thickened into a wall of stone.

Now, I hear a note breaking through the drone
and see a smile I’ve missed from spending years
in an empty house and going to bed alone.

I hear my lover speaking to me on the phone
and a poem can sweep away the sinking fear:
a silence thickened into a wall of stone
in an empty house where I go to bed alone.

(Today’s poem originally appeared in Rattle and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

Joshua Borgmann teaches English at Southwestern Community College in Creston, IA. He holds degrees from Drake University, Iowa State University, and the University of South Carolina. He has had poetry published in Rattle, Flyway, Prairie Poetry, The Blue Collar Review, and others; however, in recent years, he has been a bit distracted from his writing by his job as community college English teacher and he and his wife’s struggles to adopt a child through the foster care system. He continues to make occasional appearances at the Des Moines Poetry Slam, trying to regain his youthful veal, and hopes to write and read more in the coming year. He has an unhealthy fascination with science-fiction, horror, fantasy, and graphic novels; listens to unpopular forms of music such as heavy-metal and opera; and spends too much time looking at cat memes on Facebook. He resides in Creston, IA with his wife and three cats.

Editor’s Note: In today’s piece Joshua Borgmann is working in a form that recalls both pantoum and terza rima. The rhyme and repetition work together to echo the sentiment of the subject matter. Loneliness and desperation pervade as we move over and over with the poet throughout the slow progress of his time lived alone, in fear, facing isolation as a wall of stone. In the end, the repetition and rhyme turn the narrative on its head as we—alongside the poet—are freed from our suffering by the arrival of love. But loneliness past continues to haunt the poem’s resolution; even when love finally arrives, the poet has to work to combat his old fear of “a silence thickened into a wall of stone / in an empty house where I go to bed alone.”

Want to read more by and about Joshua Borgmann?
“Peonies and Dust” in Prairie Poetry
“Forgetting 87” in knotgrass
“Dead Again Kenny” in The Diagram


Front Camera

By Joan Prusky Glass

“Very early in my life it was too late.”
                          – M. Duras, The Lover

I read The Lover when I was fifteen.
The girl’s red doll lips became my own.
The power she had over
the Chinese man mine too.
His weakness became fuel
for a journey I was preparing for.
I needed him and despised him
before I knew why.

There is a scene in which
the man, on his knees,
bathes the girl’s slender body,
barely pubescent.
She looks down at him coolly,
braids hanging over her shoulders.
Immodest on purpose.

The lover draws a washcloth
across her hips tenderly,
with grief in his eyes.
Perhaps he is trying to wash
away the power he gave her.

She notices him loving her
the way you might notice
a penny tossed into the well
when your pockets
are filled to the brim.

(Today’s poem originally appeared in TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

Joan Prusky Glass lives with her husband and three children in Derby, Connecticut. She is an educator and child advocate by profession. Her poetry has been published or is upcoming in Decades Review, TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism, Bone Parade, Milk Sugar, Harpweaver, Pyrokinection, Literary Mama, University of Albany’s Offcourse, The Rampallian, Visceral Uterus, Up the River, Haggard & Halloo, vis a tergo and Smith College Alumnae Quarterly among others.

Editor’s Note: What draws us into today’s piece, and what makes us resist against it? Where does the reader’s experience end and the poet’s begin? Where does the poet dissolve into the girl; where does the girl begin and her author end? Is today’s feature about power? Scandal? Sex? Love?

Today Joan Prusky Glass blurs the lines between perception and art, between experience and literature, between revulsion and beauty. The poet paints a watercolor of words, one vivid pigment bleeding into the next, so that we are both moved and unsteady. We are left not knowing where we stand; unsure of the medium, of the players, of ourselves.

Want to read more by and about Joan Prusky Glass?
“Inanimate Objects,” Bone Parade
Three poems, Offcourse
“Boredom Never Killed Anyone,” Visceral Uterus
“On the Death of a Neighbor,” Haggard and Halloo
“The Poet as a Young Girl,” Decades Review


IBA cover

By April Michelle Bratten


The first time Kyle punched me,
he did it on the thigh.

He said he imagined
bashing my head in
with a hammer
on a quiet evening
in the summer.

I asked him then,
what is the point
of banging through a

He kept trying
to kill me anyway,
usually on
Saturday nights,
after the booze ran
lukewarm and thin,
the music sputtered
and dulled out,
and his boiling eyes
caught me red-cunted,
turned me translucent.

He did it because his socks weren’t sparkling white.
He did it because I had the mean face of a fish.
He did it because he simply ran out of things to say.
He did it because he felt like it.
He did it again and again until his hands unscrewed
and returned to feathers.

The last time Kyle punched me,
the ghost left the house.

I followed her,
that see-through girl,
all over town
until she stopped
by the woods
and held out a hand
full of leaves.

She was blue,
or maybe it was just the sky
behind her,
but she was there
and she was grinning
like a goon.


My mouth has turned graveyard,
as if death could carry me,
as if I could carry death,
as if I could crawl bare kneed
to save the sparrow.

I am not woman enough
to fall asleep near the wild onion root,
to carry a boy
inside my mother-parts,
to guide an attentive heart
around the sad curve
of flown pale eyes,
or to love the hand that finds my own.

I have found no solace for this
in lost languages,
and I do not wish to speak
of the ghost I know
who clings my legs,
or the warm tickle of little fingers
that pool the elbow.

Instead I heap beds of dirt
inside my womb
(good enough for no-thing
to rest a tired head)

to keep the worms hungry,
to keep the hair grown wild,
to keep the glass broken,
to keep the egg as my own,

to stomach the makers with
their loud beating wings.


I have never seen frangipani, ghost orchids,
or the milk that slides from the root.

I have wasted too much time sniffing in gardens,
pissing in jars.

I want to hear the sun tip-toe down my stairs,
a soft bladder in its teeth.

It will creep. It will slow its big shining feet. It will bite.

The rain will dribble on the stairs until morning.

Today’s poems are from It Broke Anyway (NeoPoiesis Press, © 2012 by April Michelle Bratten), and appear here today with permission from the poet.

It Broke Anyway, which pays homage to the trials and tribulations of women, reminds me of the Bob Dylan Song, “Just Like a Woman,” except that Bratten’s characters never break just like little girls. Instead she creates multidimensional characters who will remind you of your sister, mother, grandmothers, aunts, girl friends and most notably yourself. Bratten’s cunning parallels, chilling narratives, and haunting endings remind us what breaks is often more epochal than what remains intact.”
– Rebecca Schumejda, author of Cadillac Men

April Michelle Bratten was born in Marrero, Louisiana. She received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota. April was a finalist for the Best of the Net award in 2009 and was nominated again in 2010. She was also nominated for the 2010 Pushcart Prize. Her work has been widely published in both print and online, including the journals Istanbul Literary Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, San Pedro River Review, Southeast Review, Gutter Eloquence, Kill Poet, The Orange Room Review, and Dark Sky Magazine among others. She co-edits and writes book reviews for the online literary journal Up the Staircase Quarterly, which can be found at

Editor’s Note: April Michelle Bratten’s It Broke Anyway is a book in the shape of a girl. A girl who dredged herself up from the mud, the blood, the broken. It is a voice in the shape of a dry scratch, a moan, a haunting. It is vengeance and clarity freed from shattered glass. Here lies a world carved out of American Gothic, hauled up from the Deep South, the world Kate Durbin spoke of when she warned, “Not a world for little girls.”

Bratten’s tales take the shape of folkloric vignettes that speak for a thousand female voices, while her personal confessions are clear, raw, and brutally honest. This is a book wrenched from the darkness of lived experience, of survival. This is a book that “was born / next to a trolley car / in the deep south,” written by a poet who is “only a wish, / blown from the seeds of the dying dandelion,” where poems “have scribbled secrets / across their white backs.”

At times the persona of the poet takes the shape of the grotesque or the fantastical in an effort to honestly convey the inner life on the page: “I have antlers, / antlers that bow over my table, obscene protrusions, / dark and magnificent;” “I will not become picturesque / or tame, / because in this moment, / I remain, / wanting;” “I want to squeeze the reasons from her throat, / make her explain why, at 25, / I dug my fingers inside my own chest, and began to eat;” “I stand on a pile of soot with a devil. / He tells me I am the damned.” This voluminous text is at once a healing and a purging because “When a book goes unread it turns into a body, / a woman, / a dry poison.”

Want to see more by April Michelle Bratten?
Buy It Broke Anyway on Amazon
Author Page @ NeoPoiesis Press
Up the Staircase Quarterly